Last week’s Jewish Standard cover story focused on the growing GOP challenge to the once impregnable Democratic fortress of North Jersey. It turns out that it is not just the Arabs who are having their spring. Here in the United States, Americans are calling their government to account like never before and throwing out entrenched, machine politicians with a spending addiction.
Truth regardless of consequences Driving to JFK airport in New York from my home in New Jersey, I discovered that the cost of crossing the George Washington Bridge had jumped from $8 to $12. The Robert F. Kennedy Bridge (it used to be called the Triborough Bridge) cost another $6.50 to cross. These bridges serve in two states – New Jersey and New York – that both have among the highest property taxes in the nation, among the highest sales taxes, and among the highest income tax rates often at both state and local levels, in addition to the federal rate. Apparently, none of these taxes covers the maintenance of an old, rusting bridge.
A costly drive like that makes one understand why Americans are so fed up with their inept government and out-of-control bureaucrats who, no matter the trillions they raise in taxes, just do not have enough.
Never have I seen a time like this in the United States. People are fed up with government. Congress has an approval rating in the low teens and President Obama, who just three years ago was christened the American messiah, sees his poll numbers falling in virtually every category. He even risks losing the Jewish vote in 2012, an unimaginable turn of events.
The shockwaves generated by Rep. Bob Turner’s win in New York’s Ninth District, which has not had a Republican congressman since the 1920s, are waking both parties up to the fiscal accountability Americans are demanding of their governments. Families are struggling. Jobs are scarce. Parents are wrestling to put food on the table. Still, our elected leaders spend and waste our hard-earned cash.
What is at stake is the rugged individualism upon which America was founded and through which it has prospered. America is a compassionate society that has built strong safety nets to care for those in need. This was never meant to be a first option, however, but a last resort. At the core of American values is the dignity of the individual and the knowledge that people want to support themselves, not be supported by outsiders. Humans desire innately to produce more than they consume, to live lives that are a blessing rather than a burden, and to find self-redemption through a life lived of productive purpose.
The first lesson that responsible parents teach their children is “make your own bed. Clean your own room. Do your own homework. Get a part-time job in college to help pay down your student loans.”
Americans have no more patience with entitlement programs run amuck and profligate politicians who are owned by their donors, not their voters.
Incredibly, Obama still does not get the message. He speaks instead about renewing school buildings for billions of dollars, as if shiny new paint is an adequate substitute for teaching young Americans the value of self-reliance and living within your means.
The righteous anger of the American voter is causing career politicians who have sat in safe seats for many years to quake in their boots.
When I moved back to the United States after living in England for more than a decade, I settled into Englewood and simply got used to paying tens of thousands of dollars a year in property taxes for poor services and potholes in streets outside my house that made a casual drive something akin to a lunar module traversing pock-mocked craters. I submitted, as did so many citizens, to the bullying of bureaucrats who issued citations over the wrong kind of garbage left in bags and even threatened arrest warrants if too large a vehicle was parked in a driveway.
Those times they are a changin’, however. There is a backlash in our city – still inadequate but a growing roar nonetheless – against the sky-high taxes, with more citizens than ever challenging their assessed values as they take out loans against their homes simply to keep up with the taxes.
Since about 1982, the City of Englewood has not even challenged the Libyan-Gadhafi compound’s property tax exemption, even as Gadhafi became an international terrorist. It is not clear whether the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, under which diplomatic property is exempt from property taxes, applies to this compound, especially as the Libyans already enjoy an exemption on their ambassadorial residence in Manhattan. At the very least, a court should be asked to decide.
It is an absolute disgrace that successive Englewood elected leaders have required their citizens to pay taxes to support Gadhafi. One wonders at the legality that forces property owners to assist a government that kills its citizens.
Moving on, where is the outrage against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad traveling to the United States yet again to peddle his Jew-hatred, threats of Israel’s extinction, and insipid theories of American collusion in the attacks of 9/11? In August, President Obama signed a presidential order barring entry to the United States for individuals “who organize or participate in war crimes, crimes against humanity, and serious violations of human rights.” But Ahmadinejad is a man who mowed down his own people with machine guns in June 2009 when they rose against his fraudulent election. So who gave him a visa?
How sad, too, that NBC News sanitized this killer with its “day-in-the-life” puff piece that portrayed a man threatening a second holocaust as a caring leader dedicated to Iran’s poor. In reality, he has unleashed his thugs to murder and brutalize those in Iran whose only crime is seeking the right to stand up to their fraudulently elected leaders.
Thankfully, in the United States we can thunder against our government without fear of being shot in the head. It is a right we should continue to exercise until we toss out all the tone-deaf politicians who year after year get a free ride.